Health habits for back-to-school
It’s an unfortunate coincidence that back-to-school coincides with the beginning of cold and flu season, but that reality means it’s important to do what you can to ensure that your kids stay as healthy as possible – so you can too!
Sniffles are virtually unavoidable, especially if you have multiple kids in school, but there are some things you can do to keep the cooties at bay as much as possible:
- Wash your hands. It sounds simple, but proper hand washing is one of the most important ways to stop the spread of germs that cause colds and flu. Encourage your children to wash their hands regularly throughout the day, especially when they come in from outside, before they eat, and after they blow their nose, cough or sneeze (particularly if they cough or sneeze into their hands). Make sure they lather up well, and tell them to wash for the length of time it takes to sing the Happy Birthday song all the way through twice.
- Discourage sharing. Sharing is something we teach our kids to do, but it shouldn’t include food, drinks or other personal items (like combs, brushes or hats) that could transmit unwanted germs or lice.
- Get plenty of rest. Getting a good night’s sleep improves learning, helps children keep their emotions in check, and plays an important role in their physical health.1 School age children should get between 8 and 12 hours of sleep, depending upon their age. Check out WebMD to see exactly how much snoozing your child needs.
- Eat well. Food is fuel, so make sure your kids are fueling up with food that’s packed full of the vitamins and nutrients they needs. Swap out sugary treats for bright, colorful fresh fruit and crunchy veggies, offer them healthy smoothies instead of soda, and sneak fruits and vegetables into muffins and other meals whenever you can. For more healthy snack ideas visit Parents.com.
- Donate cleaning supplies to your school. Budgets are tight and teachers already purchase a lot of things for their classrooms out of pocket, so consider donating cleaning supplies that can help keep the classroom healthier. Check with your school to make sure you know what’s allowed in the classroom. Hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, baby wipes, tissues, and paper towels are all great ideas.
One of the most important ways to help stop the spread of colds and flu is to keep your children home when they’re sick. It may inconvenience you for a day or two, but sending a sick child off to school is bound to result in other children – or the teacher – coming down with the same illness. When a cold runs through a classroom, it can eventually cycle back to child who introduced it in the first place, so do yourself and everyone else a favor by giving your child enough time to rest it off at home.
For more tips on healthy back-to-school habits visit NIH.
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